From historic castles to Greco-Roman amphitheatres, there is no shortage of spectacular settings for summer concerts. Buy your ticket, pack your bag, and get ready to be transported to 10 of the best outdoor concert venues on the planet.
1. Théâtre Antique d’Orange // Orange, France
How would you like to see a show on the same stage where Ancient Romans performed countless centuries ago? Deep in the picturesque Rhone valley sits the Théâtre Antique d’Orange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Carved into a hillside in Provence between 10 and 25 CE, the Roman amphitheater stands as one of the best-preserved of its kind. Along its 337-foot facade, a nearby museum features numerous reliefs celebrating the establishment of the period known as Pax Romana. Few better examples of provincial Roman architecture can be found anywhere in the world. The theatre is the home of the oldest festival in France, Les Chorégies d’Orange festival.
2. Dalhalla // Rättvik, Sweden
Dalhalla is one of the most unique concert venues on the planet. Carved out of a 20th century limestone quarry that was discovered in 1991, the venue sits atop a small body of water that features high-quality, drinkable H2O. Concertgoers can even swim in the lake, and several singers have taken the plunge over the years as well. Acoustically, Dalhalla is near-perfect: The amount of ambient noise down in the quarry is next to zero, and the high, practically vertical rock walls provide clean, echo-free sound. Thought it couldn’t get any cooler? The crowd is separated from the stage by a thin moat. Talk about a stage dive!
3. Red Rocks Amphitheatre // Morrison, Colorado
Travel 15 miles west of Denver and you’ll be transported to a different world. Open since 1941, Red Rocks Amphitheatre has played host to some of the biggest names in music, including The Beatles in 1964. Situated between two massive sandstone rocks, Red Rocks is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically flawless amphitheatre in the world. Located more than a mile above sea level, the area surrounding Red Rocks is a fascinating mix of climates, topography, and biodiversity. Visitors have more than 800-acres of terrain to explore.
4. Slane Castle // Slane, Ireland
In the heart of County Meath, overlooking the River Boyne, sits Ireland’s largest and most impressive outdoor concert venue. Slane Castle, constructed in its current form in 1785, has been visited by chart-topping musical acts like The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and many more. In addition, Slane’s surroundings have served as the backdrop to many significant events in Irish history, including St. Patrick’s paschal fire and the Battle of the Boyne, which secured the new William of Orange’s claim to the throne. The venue plays host to weddings, special events, and, of course, speaker-shattering rock n’ roll concerts. Later this year, the Castle will begin to sell its own whiskey, officially cementing its reputation as the premiere Irish concert destination.
5. Auditorium Parco Della Musica // Rome, Italy
It’s next to impossible to impress Romans—those architecturally-spoiled denizens of the Eternal City—with a new building when they can just head over to the Colosseum or the Castel Sant’Angelo for a quick jaunt after work. Luckily, the world, and Rome, has Renzo Piano. The legendary architect, who envisioned an acoustically perfect “City of Music,” created the Auditorium Parco della Musica, which features three halls, cultural spaces, luxurious vegetation, and a striking open-air amphitheatre. The complex provides a beautifully modern venue that respects the traditions of Ancient Rome while also looking ahead to a new chapter in the city’s history.
6. Sultan’s Pool // Jerusalem, Israel
Located directly below the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Sultan’s Pool is both rich in history and visually striking. The venue sits in the cleft known as the Valley of Hinnom, an ancient site that lent its name to the Jewish concept of the afterlife (Gehinnom) and the Islamic word for Hell (Jahanna). These hellish connotations may be undeserved, but they're the perfect backstory for a rock n’ roll venue. Dating from the time of Herod, the site served as a water source for hundreds of years before it fell into a state of disuse and disrepair. Brought back to life by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 1500s, Sultan’s Pool has since been dried out, making it a perfect stage for large-scale international acts.
7. Gorge Amphitheater // George, Washington
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more pristine setting to take in a summertime concert than the Gorge in George. With almost twice the capacity of its fellow beautiful amphitheatre Red Rocks, the Gorge can pack in 20,000 fans for artists like Dave Matthews, Phish, and Pearl Jam, who all have long histories of multi-show residencies at the legendary outdoor venue. Camping is a huge part of the Gorge tradition, with thousands of tents springing up against the scenic backdrop every summer. With stunning views of the Columbia River Valley, including the river itself, the Gorge has plenty to offer the eye, but the acoustics are world-renowned, as well. The stage sits perched on a sheer cliff, and many guitar cases have met their demise at this storied venue.
8. The Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre // Meredith, Australia
Home to two annual music festivals, the Meredith Music Festival and the Golden Plains Music Festival, the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre is a spectacular outdoor venue on the edge of a farm approximately 60 miles from Melbourne. The stage is situated in a grove of large ghost gum trees, a species native to Australia and known for its ghostly white bark. A natural amphitheatre rises away from the stage, ringed by tall pine trees. The combination of the high tree line and naturally luminous bark gives the venue an otherworldly feel, resulting in its name, “Supernatural.”
9. The Great Theatre // Ephesus, Turkey
Although not as well-preserved as some other ancient amphitheatres, the Great Theatre at Ephesus gets marks for its storied past. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Ephesus itself is one of the foremost surviving examples of a Roman port city. Located near the Temple of Artemis, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Theatre was constructed during the Hellenistic period in the 3rd century BCE, and enlarged by the Romans years later. With a capacity of 25,000 spectators and a massive, three-story stage, the amphitheatre is the largest in the region by far. Originally used not only for concerts and plays, but also debates, meetings, and of course gladiatorial battles, the amphitheatre has recently seen legendary international acts like Elton John grace its stage.
10. The Greek Theatre // Los Angeles, California
One of the most iconic and instantly-recognizable outdoor music venues in the United States, if not the world, the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles boasts more than 80 years of musical history. The story of the Greek starts with Colonel Griffith J. Griffith (real name) donating a three thousand acre plot of land to the city of Los Angeles in 1896. After an exhaustive design process which included the study of Greek theatres from around the world, Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre was dedicated on September 25, 1930. For the first show at the new venue in June of 1931, tickets for the first two sections cost $1 and the rest of the seats were free. Although prices may have gone up, the modern incarnation of the Greek Theatre features world-class talent in a beautiful, lush setting, maintaining its long-standing tradition of accessibility and excellence.